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Mānawatia a Matariki

Māori believe that appearance of Matariki in the morning sky in mid-winter marks the Māori New Year, or Te Mātahi o te Tau. It signals a time to remember those who have passed, celebrate the present and plan for the future. It’s a time to spend with whānau and friends – to enjoy kai (food), waiata (song), tākaro (games) and haka.

Our tūpuna (ancestors) would look to Matariki for help with their harvesting. When Matariki disappeared in April/May, it was time to preserve crops for the winter season. When it re-appeared in June/July, tūpuna would read the stars to predict the upcoming season. Clear and bright stars promised a warm and abundant winter while hazy stars warned of a bleak winter.

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Because Māori follow the Māori lunar calendar, not the European calendar, the dates for Matariki change every year. In 2024, we celebrate Matariki from 29 June to 6 July, with a national public holiday on 28 June.

Marking the Māori New Year

The three major principles underpinning traditional Matariki celebrations are

Remembering those who have passed

The setting of Matariki is a time for mindfulness and reflection.

Celebrating the present

Matariki gives us an opportunity to be guided by and respond to the environment around us.

Planning for the future

Reading the tohu (signs) in the whetū (stars) indicates the success of the season ahead.